Suspected of 2 Hemet bank robberies, man, 55, found unconscious from drug overdose, arrested

UPDATED: Wednesday, May 16, 11 p.m.

(See original and updated reports and all photos below.)

HEMET –Officials have released additional details about last Monday’s bank robbery and the 55-year-old Hemet man arrested after an hours-long stand-off at a quiet, hilltop residential home. According to Hemet PD officials the man, identified as Howard Eugene Curtner, is suspected of at least one other Hemet bank robbery.

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55-year-old, Howard Curtner, of Hemet, was arrested after a 9-hour stand-off following a Hemet bank robbery. HPD photo

After officials tracked down a taxi cab they say drove the alleged bank robber both to and from the 2 p.m. robbery – which happened at BBVA Compass, located at 4100 E. Florida – countless local and federal officials surrounded a home on Anderson Drive in the City’s Park Hill community.

The cab driver was determined to have not been involved in the bank robbery and had no idea what Curtner was doing while inside the bank.

Nearly nine hours after the robbery was reported, Hemet/Murrieta Regional SWAT team members stormed the home, at which time they found Curtner unconscious “due to a drug overdose,” according to Hemet PD Lt. Eddie Pust.

Curtner was transported to a nearby hospital where he was treated for the drug overdose.

After spending two days in the hospital, Curtner was booked this morning into Robert Presley Detention Center in Riverside. Jail records indicated he was booked just after midnight on suspicion of two counts of 2nd degree robbery.

According to Pust, additional charges are pending against the alleged bank robber.

In addition to evidence related to Monday’s robbery, “other evidence was located connecting Curtner to another bank robbery that occurred on May 5th,” Pust explained.

The earlier bank robbery happened at the Bank of America on the 1600 block of E. Florida Ave.

Jail records indicated Curtner remains in custody on $30,000 bail and is scheduled to be arraigned at an unspecified court, May 17.

 

UPDATED: Tuesday, May 15, 1 a.m.

(See original and updated reports below.)

UPDATED: Hours-long Park Hill stand-off ends with alleged Hemet bank robber in custody

An armored tactical rescue vehicle arrives at the scene of an hours-long stand-off involving a man suspected of robbing a Hemet bank. Nathan Wilking/RVCNews photo

HEMET — Although officials have not yet provided any details or information regarding this ongoing investigation, multiple sources at the scene have updated that a man wanted in connection with a Hemet bank robbery was taken into custody.

After being apprehended, the alleged suspect was reportedly transported by ground ambulance to an area hospital for treatment of unspecified injuries.

After the man’s arrest, a robot was seen entering the alleged suspect’s residence, but not other information was immediately available.

Area residents have reported being allowed to return to their homes and Hemet PD is expected to be releasing details regarding this hours-long incident in an upcoming press release.

This is a developing story that will be updated as new information is available.

UPDATED: Monday, May 14, 8:45 p.m., With additional details

UPDATED: Monday, May 14, 8:15 p.m., With additional details

UPDATED: Monday, May 14, 7:30 p.m., With additional details

HEMET — As the now, hours-long stand-off with a man suspected of robbing Hemet’s Compass Bank continues on Anderson Drive in the City’s Park Hill area, an ever-increasing law enforcement presence continues to grow in and around the neighborhood where officials believe the suspect to be holed up in a private, hill-top residence.

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A mobile command center was brought to the scene several hours ago, as was at least one armored tactical rescue vehicle, with a second reportedly on its way to the scene. Two K-9 units have responded to the scene as well, as have Murrieta PD officers, FBI agents, and other local and federal law enforcement officials.

Countless city, county and federal law enforcement officials have converged at the scene of a barricaded stand-off with a suspected Hemet bank robber. Miguel Shannon/OC Hawk News photo

According to community reporters at the scene, Hemet PD’s SWAT team is also now at the scene; however, it is not yet known if Hemet PD has activated the Hemet-Murrieta joint SWAT team – which would potentially bring in even more additional officers, another armored vehicle and an additional mobile command center, as well as other vital resources.

In addition to the growing city, county, and federal law enforcement presence in and around the area, an increasing number of fire and AMR vehicles continue arriving in the area. Several city and county fire engines and supervisors – as well as several AMR ambulance crews and supervisors – now wait in the area, staged and ready to respond the moment needed. A SWAT-based, tactical medical rescue team was also spotted in the area; however, it was not immediately known if the specialized medics assisted during the lengthy stand-off.

Several homes in the immediate vicinity of the surrounded residence have been evacuated and many Park Hill residents have reported being kept from their homes, unable to return until the tense stand-off is resolved.

Area residents who have not been evacuated from the area report that every street in the surrounding Park Hill neighborhood is now packed with marked and un-marked vehicles from countless area law enforcement agencies.

Something rarely seen before over Hemet was a law enforcement drone, which numerous area residents have reported flying over the scene. Several residents even obtained video footage or photographs of the drone and shared those photos and videos on social media.

As the standoff continued, officials brought a mobile command center to the scene. Miguel Shannon/OC Hawk News photo

Eddie George of Hemet Eye News, who has been filming and live-streaming from the scene of the stand-off since officers first surrounded the home, was one of many citizens and community news reporters who caught footage of the drone’s activity over the home were the suspect is believed to be hiding and barricaded.

According to George, Hemet PD has advised the drone over the scene belongs to their department.

Although RCNS has not yet confirmed that as fact, several area agencies – including Riverside County Sheriff’s Department – operate drones. Some area agencies use the smaller, quad-copter style drones, while RSO and other agencies utilize larger, longer and faster flying, fixed-wing, airplane-style drones.

According to the agencies that use the drones, the vitally important tools can be brought out and used at major incidents such as natural disasters, missing person’s investigations and remote area rescues.

The cabbie who reportedly drove the alleged suspect both to and from the bank robbery has since come forward and in an interview with Hemet Eye News the unwitting get away driver said he never suspected he was transporting a person who had just robbed a bank and used a taxi as a get away car.

After picking his fare up the passenger asked to be taken to the Compass Bank where he then requested the driver wait nearby while he “make a withdrawal.”

Not suspecting anything out of the ordinary, the cabbie parked nearby and waited until he saw the alleged bank robber calmly walk from the bank to the waiting taxi. The man then opened the door and calmly got into the taxi and requested to be taken to the area of Anderson and Park Hill.

Although the taxi driver noticed a woman exit the bank and stare at the cab as it pulled from the parking lot, he said he still did not suspect anything was amiss and said his passenger was perfectly calm and did not appear to look like a person who had just robbed a bank.

The cabbie said he then drove the man to the Park Hill area, where he dropped his passenger off and last saw him walking toward Anderson Drive.

As of this report, all attempts to convince the man believed to be inside the home have failed and official’s efforts are continuing.

This is a developing story that will be updated as new information is available.

 

ORIGINAL STORY: BREAKING: HEMET: Bank robbery leads to ongoing Park Hill stand-off

HEMET — Officials investigating a Hemet bank robbery that happened earlier this afternoon have reportedly surrounded a Park Hill area home and are ordering a man to come out of the home. The man, believed to have robbed the bank, is reportedly refusing to exit the surrounded home and a possible barricaded stand-off is underway at the location.

Hemet PD responded to reports of a robbery at BBVA Compass, located at 4100 E. Florida, in Hemet about 2:10 p.m., after the bank and witnesses reported the robbery.

It was not immediately known if the alleged suspect used a weapon during the robbery.

Patrol officers, detectives, and special teams’ members have surrounded an Anderson Dr. home in the Park Hill area after a man allegedly robbed a Hemet Bank this afternoon. Timothy Franzese/Public Safety Incidents photo

During their subsequent investigation officers learned that after robbing the location, bank employees followed the suspect and saw the man get into a Yellow Cab taxi that then drove the man away from the area.

Witnesses and victims described the alleged suspect as an older white male adult with long gray hair in a ponytail. Official radio traffic at the time indicated witnesses also said the man was wearing a black hat, blue shirt with stripes, and black jeans.

Officers quickly tracked down the taxi company and interviewed the cab driver that reportedly drove the alleged suspect both to and from the robbery.

Sources close to the investigation have reported that the driver had been dispatched to pick up a man in the area of State St. and Florida Ave., and learned that after the robbery, the unsuspecting taxi driver had taken the man to the area of Anderson Drive and Park Avenue, before dropping him off.

The man was reportedly last seen leaving the area on foot.

Soon, after developing additional leads and gathering more witness statements and information, Hemet PD officials converged on Anderson Drive and were soon seen surrounding a specific home on the hilly street.

Riverside Sheriff’s Aviation Unit responded to the area to assist and is currently circling over the area, using their PA system to order a man to exit a home with his hands up. Patrol officers, detectives, and supervisors, as well as Gang Task Force and other special teams’ members, have taken up protected positions around the home – using vehicles, trees and anything else available for cover.

Hemet Fire and AMR personnel are staged in the area and prepared to respond at a moment’s notice if anyone is injured as the stand-off continues.

It is not yet known if Hemet PD has activated the Hemet-Murrieta joint SWAT team or if officials are bringing in additional resources, such as a mobile command center or the department’s armored tactical rescue vehicles to the scene.

Officials have not yet been publicly identified the man they are looking for or made any statements regarding the incident, which is active and ongoing.

Officials have cordoned off the area and closed down area streets and have requested citizens to stay away from the scene. Anyone who lives in the area has been asked to stay within their homes until the crisis is over and the alleged suspect is in custody.

This is a developing story that will be updated as new information is available.

Click any image to open full-size gallery.

 

Contact the writer: trevor.rcns@gmail.com

Trevor Montgomery, 46, recently moved to Shasta County from Riverside County and runs Riverside County News Source and Shasta County News Source. Additionally, he writes for several other news organizations, including Riverside County based newspapers, Valley News, The Valley Chronicle and Anza Valley Outlook, as well as Bonsall/Fallbrook Village News in San Diego County and The Mountain Echo in Shasta County.

Trevor spent 10 years in the U.S. Army as an Orthopedic Specialist before joining the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department in 1998. He was medically retired after losing his leg, breaking his back and suffering both spinal cord and brain injuries in an off-duty accident. (Click here to see segment of Discovery Channel documentary of Trevor’s accident.)

During his time with the sheriff’s department, Trevor worked at several different stations, including Robert Presley Detention Center, Southwest Station in Temecula, Hemet/Valle Vista Station, Ben Clark Public Safety Training Center and Lake Elsinore Station, along with other locations.

Trevor’s assignments included Corrections, Patrol, DUI Enforcement, Boat and Personal Water-Craft based Lake Patrol, Off-Road Vehicle Enforcement, Problem Oriented Policing Team and Personnel/Background Investigations. He finished his career while working as a Sex Crimes and Child Abuse Investigator and was a court-designated expert in child abuse and child sex-related crimes.

Trevor has been married for more than 27 years and was a foster parent to more than 60 children over 13 years. He is now an adoptive parent and has 13 children and 14 – soon to be 15 – grandchildren.

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